If you are a nerd, you probably spend a lot of time capturing data. Saving links to Pinboard, clipping webpages into Evernote, writing journal entries in Day One, taking photos with your iPhone, and adding a task to OmniFocus are all just different ways to capturing different kinds of information.
Nick Wynja has some thoughts on the step that comes after capture:
I’m missing out on the way the past can influence the future.
That’s something I’ve started to realize as I try to reflect and recall. My past is engrained in my nature but it doesn’t seem emblazoned in my mind. As I’ve become more aware and mindful of how I can approach my life by design, I feel like I’m much more “forward thinking” and spend less time tracking, reviewing, and thinking about what has passed. I don’t often ask the questions of why or when or what in the past tense, to myself or to others. And even when I do, it’s hard to find answers.
The argument could be made that all of the data that we capture is only as important as the time we spend using and reviewing that data. Why should I write in Day One if I don’t use it as a tool to review and reflect?
Tools like Day One make it easy to reflect on our captured data. That is important, because as Nick says, the past can influence the future. Some of my favorite pieces of data to review are photos. I use Everpix, which makes it easy to look back at old pictures. The app even shows my photos that I took a year ago using the flashback feature. When I look at those old photos, they show me how I have grown as a person. That helps me to understand where I am going, and it allows me to make course corrections as necessary.
I write in Day One every single day, as do many other people. The best part about using Day One is that when I need to know something about my past it is only a search away. That is extremely satisfying and useful.
If you collect data in any way, I strongly encourage you to make it a point to review and reflect on your data. This gives a purpose to the process of data collection, and it may very well improve the way you work and live.